The Basics of Design With Tessa Allen

On the podcast this week, special guest Tessa Allen shares some design tips and a little about her background in interior design. It’s encouraging to listen to her perspective because she doesn’t come from an attitude of “having it all together” or “knowing it all.”

It’s okay to copy color

In Tessa’s home, the color flows from room to room. It’s cohesive, calm, and comforting. What’s amazing about the color? She copied. The ideas/tones/color palettes came from looking at other people’s homes. She picked her mindful gray (Sherwin Williams) and navy from friends’ homes and a model home.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s okay to copy. This isn’t a third-grade spelling test — it is your home. If you feel comfortable with a color in someone else’s home, try using it in yours!

Don’t follow a trend you don’t like

On the podcast, I share a story about a blue couch. I bought a blue couch with those tufted pillows attached to the back because it was a trend. Neighbors and friends were putting this style of couch in their homes, so I followed suit.

Guess what? I didn’t like it. I bought it because I wanted to follow a trend. I put that couch in my basement family room hoping the kids would jump on it, spill stuff on it, and it would need to be replaced. They did all of the above, but I didn’t get to replace the couch right away. Instead, I had to live with the stained couch for quite a while until I passed it on to my younger brother.

The lesson? Don’t buy something you don’t LOVE just because it’s trendy.

If you love a Trendy Idea, use it in Moderation

I have a wall of shiplap in my family room. I love it. The truth is, the shiplap wall was birthed out of a need to cover some holes — big holes that meant the wall needed to be replaced or covered. I chose shiplap, and I love it.

I also love bright colors. Sometimes they are the trend, sometimes not. Although I learned the hard way not to cover the walls of my house with them, I still have lots of accents of color that can easily be changed. If you see a new trend such as the popular navy or blush, try doing an accent wall, or a paint a piece of furniture that can be changed with little effort.

Shop for Used furniture

Let’s face it: We don’t all have unlimited funds to purchase furniture and wall art. I can’t tell you how many times I see a piece and tell my husband, “It’s all in the details,” as if he will jump on board for my purchase. The truth is, he doesn’t really care about the details until he sees it all together. It’s just a personality trait, not a fault. He often doesn’t mind my logic or my latest purchase at Hobby Lobby of a coffee mug to display on the coffee bar — if there is money set aside for it.

If there is no money, there is no money. If there is a bit of money, then consignment stores are the way to go! Consignment, second-hand stores, and yard sales all have treasures waiting to be found! You just have to go find them. Just don’t go hog wild without Tessa’s next point in mind.

Know your color Palette before you purchase

Tessa suggests carrying your paint swatch in your purse when shopping for decor. Brandi Panson mentioned this on last week’s podcast (and article). “Begin with the end in mind” is the way she phrased it. If you have no color palette, no end in mind, no style in mind, you will buy whatever appeals to you (raising my hand) and waste money. It doesn’t save you any money to buy all kinds of knick-knacks and decor unless they fit your home’s style and color palette.

They don’t make it like they used to

My parents used to say “they don’t make them like they used to.” I thought it was weird, then. What’s weirder is I say it myself now. I have wanted a yellow chair for years because yellow is my favorite yellow! I’ve looked at ones at IKEA for many years, but I just couldn’t plunk the money down to get a yellow chair that doesn’t fit my style.

So I waited. This past Christmas season, my sister Anne found a vintage yellow chair in a local shop, The Looking Glass. She sent me a photo. As soon as I opened the message, I knew that chair was yelling my name! “Kathleen! Kathleen! Kathleen!” I immediately contacted the owner of the shop and asked her if it was available. She said yes, but she could only hold it one day.

I texted hubby: I found my Christmas present. I waited a few minutes and shot him this text: We have to pick it up tomorrow, and we need the truck. A few minutes later: It’s this much $$$$. He got a laugh out of it, and I got a vintage yellow chair that I love… which leads me another one of Tessa’s points:

It’s okay to wait

We have been conditioned by HGTV to think that a whole house can/should be done in a weekend or a matter of months. That’s not realistic in many scenarios and not always the best idea. When you move into a home, it’s important to see how your family functions in that space. It’s also important to figure out what style you want to see. This takes time.

And with a limited budget, often we have to design in the most cost-effective ways. That may mean stripping wallpaper off the dining room walls is the first design step. It may also mean that sectional you want for the family room will have to be on the back burner for a while, even if you are shopping second hand. That’s okay. It is more important to be content with what you have then to have everything look perfect.

If you are struggling with this concept, I hear you. I struggle to. For years I made my home an idol. You can that my story here.

Make your home fit your family

I think we alluded to this on last week’s podcast, but it’s worth repeating. You may be looking at all the photos of homes from our social media this month and thinking, “That’s just not me. I don’t like any of that.”

If so, that’s okay. The point isn’t to pattern your home after someone else’s (unless you want to) — the point is to make your home fit your family. Your home should be unique. It should speak your name, not mine. My family affectionately calls our home “The Guire Shire” (we’re huge Lord of the Rings Fans). Maybe you could try naming your home, too.

Whatever you do, make your home fit your family, then invite me over for a cup of coffee.

Tessa and her daughters

Hi, I’m Tessa.  Daughter of the King, wife of Jess, mother to Lexie & Alivia.  I love to laugh and have fun (not the wild and crazy kind of fun, just simple fun).  I also love music! I play piano, teach piano lessons, and accompany local choirs and soloists. I love teaching, whether it’s piano lessons, general music class, or teaching my girls something new.  I also love to learn.

Interior design has always been something that I have enjoyed.  As a freshman in college, I took an intro to Interior Design class and really liked it.  While I was working on my music education degree, design was always in the back of my mind.  So, once I completed my music degree, I stuck around and got an interior design degree 😊  

I used my design degree for a few years once I graduated, although it didn’t really look like what I had envisioned while in school.  Throughout the years, I have always loved putting my house together, choosing colors, figuring out where things go, discovering new items I want, and deciding how to put it all together.  Since we have moved four times, I’ve gotten to do that a lot!

For me, design and having people feel comfortable in my home is important.  If it brings peace to my soul and my family and friends feel at home, then I consider it a success.  

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Tidying Up and Some Tips from Kathleen

Most people desperately need to put their house in order. Unfortunately, the majority of them fail to embrace this as a “special event” and instead make do with rooms that are more like storage sheds. – Marie Kondo

Is your house like a giant storage shed?

Do you have clutter everywhere that is driving you crazy?

Do you stuff things in closets that you don’t want to deal with?

Do you wish you felt more peace in your home?

It is difficult concept to grasp that you are the boss and the employee of your home. We here at The Whole House get it. In fact we did a whole podcast on the subject. (You can find it here). We often think that some invisible “they” is in charge and we must do what “they” say. Another myth is the items we own are in charge of us. We move them. Stack them. Shove them in closets. All the while we desire some space to breathe or a peaceful place to relax. How do we get there? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some tips from someone who likes an uncluttered environment.

  1. The object is not the memory. Get rid of the object. Keep the memory. We often hang on to items because we want to remember the event. One of my girls loved to share candy wrappers, tickets, receipts (basically trash) in bulk in shoeboxes. They took over her closet. She could explain where each bit of paper came from. It took many years for her to understand that a scrap of paper is not a memory. On my live on Facebook last week, I shared how I helped my sister clean out a corner cabinet in her kitchen before a move. She had well over fifty plastic cups from various sporting events her family attended stuffed way back where no one could get to them. But, she could tell me which event they each came from. I’m not here to tell you to change your personality. Just change your perspective. If things like cups and tickets are valuable to you. If they “spark joy” for you , then find a way to display or store them. Use a scrapbook for tickets. Just ask yourself, “Is this item bringing value to me? To my home? To my family?”
  2. A gift is not a blessing if it is frustrating you by taking up space. This is a tough one. We all get those gifts that we aren’t sure what to do with. What if Aunt Mabelle comes over and the giant ceramic iguana she gifted you is not displayed? Will she be offended? If the item is taking up space, you don’t like it and looking at it frustrates you, give it away. Bless someone else with it or return it and get something you do like. Your home is your space. It should feel peaceful to you. If your closets and shelves are stuffed with “gifts that don’t bless you”, take control and do something about it.
  3. Have a specific space for everything. Store things where they make the most sense. Don’t keep paper clips in the laundry room because you have a cute basket.
  4. If you get it out, put it away. This is such a simple concept and yet we procrastinate. I am probably more adamant about this practice than most. Raising seven children, things got cluttered pretty quickly. I gave my kids daily room assignments. In each room, I posted an index card with the instructions for tidying the room.The instructions were detailed and simple: put all couch cushions away, pick up toys (whether they are yours or not), fold blankets, etc… This eliminates so much work and avoids confusion about expectations.  
  5. Purging is not a one and done deal. Although I love Marie Kondo’s idea of doing it all at once, you will have to do again until your habit changes (mine is still in process). This is because we aren’t just consumers. We are collectors.

People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking. -Marie Kondo

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 Step number one of Marie’s method with my two-cents thrown in:

  1. Clothing

Place all clothes in a pile. I do this on my bed. When sorting Marie says to hold an item and notice whether it “sparks joy.” If you are putting it in your go pile, thank it. If you need a Christian perspective on this – thank God for the item and pray it will bless someone else. I do hang my clothes a little differently than Marie suggests. I hang mine by color instead of grouping them by like items such as blazers, blouses.

Another practice I finish my sorting with is creating outfits with what I have. I call this shopping in my own closet.

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We women are famous for saying, “I have nothing to wear” when we have a closet full of clothes (raising my hand here). Take some time to sort and then put together some outfits. It will make you feel as if you went shopping!

Here’s a tip from Marie on folding:

 

The Office Redo

The Office

I’m a writer. I keep telling myself that. I have an office. Only problem is, my office has been relocated several times in the past few years. Last year, it was housed in my bedroom. Then in moved to a spare room. Then the other spare room. You get the picture. Kind of like my writing career. It sometimes gets misplaced or moved to the back burner. Isn’t it interesting how our outward physical circumstances often reflect our inner thoughts. I often doubt my writing ability or calling. When I do, I feel misplaced and disorganized.

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Daughter Amerey is helping me redo my office. Right now, it is messier than I am comfortable with. I can’t find things. I have files everywhere and oh, did I mention, my office is also the guest room. It’s the where-the-babies-take-a-nap when they come over room. If you’re not sure what that means design wise, it means sleigh bed and a pack and play live in the space (that one gets put away, sometimes).

Today, I worked at the dining room table because I couldn’t get comfortable in my office space. I kept getting up and picking up files to put away in the non existent file cabinet. I’m not complaining. I think this circumstance has made me more determined to make a clean, organized space. Amerey and I have come up with some great solutions. They’re going to take some effort and thankfully, not a lot of money.

Shopping in my home

I love projects. I like planning them out. Looking at photos. Idea boards. (I have one for writing, it’s a door I refinished hanging on the wall. Right now, it’s in the other bedroom. That is moving to my ‘new’ office). Another habit I have is shopping in my home. I think it is often a resource that is overlooked.

Sometimes, we hunt for something new when just need something to feel new.

Turn your old things into new things

I love the idea of repurposing things. Sometimes a coat of paint or a new location is all you need to make something feel fresh and new.

The desk above was my mother’s. I painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint. It had some water damage and hadn’t been treated for years. Now, it looks fresh and new. As, I shopped my house, shared our ideas and plans with my husband, he had the usual she’s at it again face. I am. After taking inventory in my home, I decided, I’m not buying a file cabinet. I have an old writing desk that has large drawers that can store file folders. I have more plans, but I’ll share them as we finish the project. Hopefully I remember to take photos!

As I was shopping in my home, I got excited about painting and moving things around. It’s such an energizing feeling to be creative and I thought of how many times I block that creativity by just buying something. There’s nothing wrong with buying something when its needed, but how often do I just buy instead of try to do it on my own?

How about you? What can you repurpose in your home today?